Say no to racism tonight, Sept. 30, 2016

This evening, I’m taking the action I can to not just say no to racism, but hell no.

Tonight, a memorial will be set to mark where James T. Scott was killed in a lynching. An MU janitor, he was accused, but never found guilty, of assaulting a Columbia girl. He was never given a chance to prove his innocence.

The date was April 1923.

The event will take place at 5 p.m., starting with an unveiling, and a reception at 6 p.m. at 518 Hitt St., in the Leadership Auditorium on the second floor of Memorial Union on the campus of MU.

I’m white and I think about the fact that my grandfather risked his life unionizing in the 1920s. But he didn’t get killed. I wonder how I would feel about my grandfather if he’d been killed by a mob for something he didn’t do.

It wouldn’t have been me killed, but it would have still affected me.

Then I think about how that murder affects all of us in Columbia even today, just as it did then.

Then I think about how it must have affected another black man, J.W. “Blind” Boone. His home has recently been dedicated as a historical home and community center.

That home, at 10 N. Fourth St. is seven blocks — one-half mile — from the place where the last lynching in Columbia took place. A 10-minute walk. What must it have felt like to be a black man, a famous black man who toured the country, a black man who was wealthy and accomplished, as was Boone, to live a 10-minute walk from that murder?

I have no idea. And if you are white, you probably don’t either. But I think Scott could have been my great-grandfather, and how would I see the world today if that had happened to my relative?

 

Today, you can see Boone’s house, and remark on his amazing life and talents. And sometimes, like recently, you can see the results of what led to the death of James T. Scott.

So tonight, I’ll be at the event so people can see that we’re just saying no to racism, we’re saying hell no.

Grand opening of historic home of $19.5 million musician set for Sept. 18

The dedication of the home of a musician who traveled from 1880-1913 performing about 7,200 concerts is set for 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 10 N. Fourth St.

The musician earned about $19.5 million dollars in his lifetime, an amount calculated using information in the National Register of Historic Places document on the house and MeasuringWorth.com, a website designed to calculate value of currency.

The musician was J.W. “Blind” Boone and his story can be viewed from multiple perspectives. He overcame racism, poverty and even trickery to become a successful musician.

Even his home was nearly lost. And now, on Sunday, after years of work from volunteers and city expenditures, will be dedicated and opened to the public.

Note on the calculations: Information in the National Register of Historic Places document states he earned $150 to $600 per concert and performed about 7,200 concerts. Using $150 per concert for 7,200 concerts, his earning would have been $1.1 million. Using MeasuringWorth.com, a website designed to calculate value of currency, that amount would be worth $19.5 million in 2015.

News Release:

The City of Columbia has issued a press release on the event and it is reprinted here with permission:

Contact: Clyde Ruffin

President, John William “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation

573-424-8222

Dedication, grand opening of J.W. “Blind” Boone Home scheduled Sept. 18

COLUMBIA, MO (September 15, 2016) – On Sunday, Sept. 18 the John William “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation will host the dedication and grand opening of the newly restored J.W. “Blind” Boone Home. The event will be held at the home, 10 N. Fourth St., from 2 to 4 p.m. with light refreshments provided after the program.

John William “Blind” Boone, born in 1864, overcame blindness, poverty, and discrimination to become a nationally famous concert pianist and composer. Boone helped to merge African-American folk music with the European classical tradition, a fusion that opened the way for ragtime, jazz, boogie-woogie and much more.

“Even before the Great Scott Joplin, Boone was busy evolving the first true ‘made in America’ genre of music: Ragtime! It became America’s gift to the world,” said Lucille Salerno, emeritus board member of the Foundation and organizer of the former Blind Boone Jazz Festival.

The home was built between 1888-1892 by John Lange Jr. as wedding present for his sister Eugenia Lange and Boone. It serves as a monument to the individual genius and generosity of Boone but it also represents the historic African-American community as a whole — its struggles and accomplishments. The home’s location on Fourth Street is one of the few physical remnants of the community African-Americans built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“The effort to preserve Boone’s home is important, in part, because it is one of the few surviving reminders of the days when Fourth Street was the heart of Columbia’s African-American neighborhood,” said Greg Olson, a member of the Foundation. “At a time when the city, like much of the nation, was deeply segregated, Blind Boone was that rare individual who seemed to have the ability to bring together Columbia citizens of all races.”

The home was purchased by the City of Columbia in 2000 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Renovations to the home included interior restoration, minor exterior repairs and landscaping. The project was approved by City Council on June 3, 2013 and the City portion was paid for with surplus funds from fiscal year 2012. The estimated cost for the City was $326,855 with a $16,500 donation from the John William “Blind” Boone Heritage Foundation.

The Foundation was organized in 1997; for more information, visit this link: http://blindboonehome.com/.

Reincarnation, historic homes and a free festival

Did you ever notice that anyone who talks about a past life was always a princess or a pharaoh? Yeah, me too.

But I’m firmly convinced that if I did have a past life it was lived as a common laborer or simple farm wife. That’s why I’ll be in the Ryland House as a volunteer at this weekend’s free Heritage Festival.

The Heritage Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17 and 18 at Historic Nifong Park, 3700 Ponderosa St. This free event will include demonstrations, dancing, crafts and … yes! Tours of the buildings at the Village at Boone Junction, a sweet little collection of Boone County historic buildings including the Ryland House.

The Ryland House was built around 1880 and moved to the Junction in 2005. It’s a small place, about 800 square feet and was originally owned by a well off farm family, William and Maggie Ryland. They farmed about 358 acres near Sturgeon.

The tour of the house won’t last long — it’s only three rooms. Yes, despite the fact that the family that owned this house had a nice sized, well-run farm, their house consisted of three rooms, a large kitchen, a bedroom, and a parlor used mainly when visitors came by.

I won’t be in the parlor during my time volunteering in the Ryland House. I’ll be in the kitchen, where I’m sure my ancestors and any former incarnations of myself would have been. And you can come visit me there, too, on Sunday morning.

But what if you were a princess or someone wealthy in a past life. No worries. You’ll be able to get a peek at the life of those better off in Boone County during a tour of the Maplewood House.

The fine two-story house was the home of Lavinia Lenoir and Dr. Frank G. Nifong. It was built by Miss Lavinia’s father, Slater Ensor Lenoir around 1877, and the nine-room house is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Maplewood, unlike the Ryland House, features a music room, a dining room, several bedrooms as well as a parlor, a kitchen and even a maid’s or sewing room.

So no matter what your inclination is about a past life, in the present you can straddle past and present at the Heritage Festival this weekend.

 

Learn and snag some history

Looking for something unique? Want to learn how to fix up your home?

Both of those two possibilities will be on tap from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10 and 11 at the city’s storage barn in Rock Quarry Park at 2002 Grindstone Parkway.

Members of the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission and untold volunteers have managed to snag and store items from more than a dozen historic buildings that have been razed. Now, those items that range from bathtubs to window frames will be sold.

But it’s not just a historic shop-a-thon. According to this article in the Columbia Daily Tribune, there will be workshops at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday to help people learn how to reinstall the doors and windows.

The sale will be cash or check only, noted Pat Fowler, a member of the Historic Preservation Commission, in the article. The take from the sale will go to the city and set aside for future preservation efforts.

Can’t attend the sale or workshops? You can still keep up with preservation efforts by connecting with the Facebook page of the City of Columbia Historic Preservation Commission.

Sharp End highlighted in August Columbia Business Times

This article by Brandon Hoops includes historic photos and the insights of Jim Whitt, Ed Tibbs, Lorenzo Lawson, Bill Thompson and Georgia Porter.

It’s headlined A Fresh Memory of Sharp End, and offers some interesting commentary on the times and reality that lead to the urban renewal in Columbia that swept aside that vibrant black community.